Cloud Eleven and The Inexperienced

Cloud Eleven

Cloud Eleven “Record Collection”

Cloud Eleven (aka Rick Gallego) has been a reliable figure in power pop since the late ’90s, and although he’s mellowed he remains a potent talent. Rick honors his musical heroes (and his collection of vintage vinyl) on this new obviously-named album. Nelson Bragg drums on all the songs, and we’ve got assists from a top-tier crew with Probyn Gregory, Seth Swirsky and Rick Hromadka among others.

The Beatles-Beach Boys styled opening track with horns and swirling organs on the title track talks about the effort of the artist just hoping to be “played once in a while.” While this is catnip to a power pop fan, it leads to the dream-like melody of “The Mystic’s Mistake” full of subtle psychedelics and layered instrumentation. “Too Soon Was Yesterday” is an obvious nod to the Burt Bacharach’s heyday and the echoing piano melody “40 Below” adds Seth Swirsky’s solid guitar solo. “Indian Guru” is exactly what you think it is – full of sitar, bongos, and tabla drum, but my favorite track is “A Sadness In Sorry,”  a Zombies styled melody with a gorgeous harmony-filled hook. Highly recommended, and worthy of your music collection (vinyl, CD or Mp3.)

CD Baby | Amazon

The Inexperienced

The Inexperienced “Too Inexperienced”

The Inexperienced are a London-based act and the creative outlet for Alex Meadows (Jamiroquai, Tom Jones). The straight on pop of “Something To Sing” has an easy going chorus and strong guitar hook. “528Hz” is a bright multi-tracked vocal full of positive vibes, and then Alex dives off head first into prog rock land.

“Microwaving” is a smooth composition that recalls The Alan Parson Project. “No Yeah” adds horns and deep ‘70s bass like a Sly Stone one-off, while “the Shorten Suite” has several melodies combined with an energetic rant against McDonalds fast food. The trippy “Inventor Preventer” uses an electronic talk box and “Real Life Situation” uses funky synth effects to enhance things, the rhythms recall ’80s Herbie Hancock in spots! “Take Me Home” is a gem of a sing along and Alex throws all sorts of instruments into this album, making the combinations a lot of fun to listen to. A real grower of an album, no experience needed! Thanks again to Pink Hedgehog Records for this find.

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More from the Ice Cream Man

Wayne Lundqvist Ford (Ice Cream Man) strikes again! This new compilation of Power Pop, Mod, Surf, Punk, New Wave, and Northern Soul hits the spot with a whopping one hundred and eight tracks! Not everything may be to your taste, but there are plenty of great songs here, my favorites include; The Click Beetles “Try Girl, Adam Marsland “Something For Nothing,” and Nick Piunti “Heart Stops Beating.” Obviously too many goodies to list here – just listen for yourself. Best of all this sampler is absolutely FREE. Yup, a free download so get it now!

 

Also featured artists Eric Barao “On Holiday,” and The Thigh Highs “Carrol Gardens” will be appearing live at Power Popaholic Fest this September!

 

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The Fad and Vanilla

The Fad

The Fad “The Now Sound”

Rescued from certain oblivion, this early 80’s Philadelphia three-piece Mod/Power Pop group dressed in “Star Trek” styled outfits is a very rare gem indeed. The Fad released a 6 song EP record and faded into obscurity, with lead singer songwriter Frank Max eventually going on to join The Beat Rats.

Kool Kat Musik has produced this collection of 12 original recordings of the band from 1982-1985 that are clearly rooted in the British Mod Revival movement. The tight Rickenbacker jangle and hooks on “Where The Colors Are” is a real treat and “Watch The Sky” is a perfect Invasion-styled jam, like The Association meets Roger McGuinn. The ’80s style comes through on “Countdown” and “Broken Hearts” which sounds like a mix between The Beach Boys and The Records. Each tune is magic and even the instrumentals keep your toe tapping. Unfortunately the sound quality of the existing “source” tapes are pretty bad.  However the music is too good to ignore, and power pop completists will definitely want to get this album.

Kool Kat Musik exclusive

Vanilla 2.0

Vanilla “Vanilla 2.0″

The long overdue album from Vanilla (Jayson Jarmon, Sean Gaffney, Carl Funk, Scott McPherson, and Kirk Adams) is ready and its a leap in style and quality. It starts out with the brilliant ballad “The Victim of the Rhyme” that combines melody and dense harmonies to perfection. “Hai Karate Girls” is a pretty obscure reference on this strong jam with horns, keys and guitar on full blast. “Perfect Year” is another gem with lyrical simplicity that recalls classic REM.

On the second half the album shifts to more of a theatrical style, very much like The Blood Rush Hour. “The Curtain Coming Down” has dark cast over its XTC-like drama. “The Angel of Swain’s Lane” is an Irish folk song that seems a little out of place, but the macabre “Twilight” sets the mood back, and the humorous “Monkeypox!” is a gem that combines wicked lyrical skill with a Brian May styled guitar solo. The band closes with an energetic cover of The Raspberries “Go All The Way.” Let’s hope the next album comes sooner. Highly Recommended!

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Chris Stamey and Mark Britton

Chris Stamey

Chris Stamey “Euphoria”

The venerable Chris Stamey (dB’s, Sneakers) quietly released this new album full of timeless pop. “Where Does The Time Go?” is phrase you will be saying after repeat listens, as the hook filled melody is surrounded by ascending chords and Beatlesque horns. Stamey’s gift is that he can see new things in compositions that echo the past.

“Make Up Your Mind” is the biggest gem here. It recalls Big Star, all about retirement the lyric states “isn’t it time you quit, its for your own benefit” with an awesome guitar break. The ballad “You Are Beautiful” slowly builds to a full orchestrated composition and “Invisible” is a statement about your insignificance that could be a lost REM hit single. “When The Fever Breaks” is the heaviest rocker here and  “Awake in the World” mines those East Indian Beatle-isms George Harrison was best associated with. The album has a great soul-seaching theme for Stamey and its highly recommended.

Amazon

Mark Britton

Mark Britton “Odds and Sodd”

This came out last year, but its worth noting if you have a Beatlesque fetish. Britton delivers several melodic tunes that exemplify power pop. Opening with the windmilling, power riff of “Hearts and Minds” its straight from The Pete Townshend playbook. Then its the McCartney styled piano of “Sally Ann,” with a Beach Boys styled vocal break. “Dear Rosa” is similar, with harpsichord as the main instrument and “Eleanor Rigby” styled strings.

He moves from these basic influences, but the strained lead of “Good Morning Sunshine,” shows Brittons limitations as a vocalist. His guitar also seems to come to life on “Let’s Get Famous,” but its a little too close to Fountain of Wayne’s “Bright Future In Sales.” He takes tired blues detour on “My Friend Foe,” but thankfully comes back with a pair of gems on the psychedelic “Magic Circles” and the charmer “Family Guy.” I’d give this one a few spins on the playlist, overall a positive impression.


Amazon | CD Baby

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The Power Popaholic Interview: Led Zeppelin 2

LiveIanBarryBrechiesen
Photo by Barry Brechiesen

Where do you go to experience your favorite classic rock band once they’ve broken up? You get yourself to a tribute show and soak in the live sounds of a cover band that can do the original group justice. In concert, Led Zeppelin 2 delivers authentic renditions of classic Zeppelin material, as well as recreating the live improvisation & onstage dynamics that earned Led Zeppelin their legendary status for performing, even satisfying diehard Zep fans. I got to chat with drummer Ian Lee, read the interview here!

Led Zeppelin 2 will be performing in Wantagh, NY on Thursday, August 6 at the Nikon Theater at Jones Beach and in Holmdel, NJ on Sunday, August 16 at the PNC Bank Arts Center. More info at http://www.ledzeppelin2.com/

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